Alpha Wireless’s rapid expansion and innovative drive have been praised by Irish Minister of State Mary Mitchell O’Connor at a recent US business event. Speaking at a business dinner in Kansas City, the higher education minister toasted the work Alpha Wireless has been involved in with a major tier-one operator.
The minister, who marked St. Patrick’s Day in the US by celebrating Irish business achievement, said she was particularly delighted to see Alpha Wireless experiencing such significant growth across the United States, and being embraced by household names in the telecommunications sector.
“I look forward to hearing of the future success of Alpha Wireless,” added O’Connor. “And not just here in the US, but across global markets as well.”
Ryan White, the VP of Corporate and Business Development for Alpha Wireless, said he was thrilled with the minister’s recognition of the company as one of Ireland’s leading telecommunications companies, and that the evening highlighted how far the company had progressed over the past decade.
White explained that mobile and fixed wireless service providers face a daunting task of satisfying the growing demand for coverage and capacity while minimizing the cost to serve. The old models of network deployment are no longer sustainable, and Alpha Wireless is addressing this by changing the way wireless networks are built.
“Innovation is a major focus for Alpha Wireless. We have a deep understanding that one size does not necessarily fit all and it is important for us to deliver a solution that fits the specific needs of our clients,” said White. “Having the minister comment on that aspect of our company was important to us.”
Alpha Wireless is an Enterprise Ireland-supported Irish company that designs and manufactures high performance, superior quality antenna solutions. The Irish-based company has offices in Europe, the US, and Australia, and currently exports to 15 different countries.
O’Connor added that Irish companies have a unique approach to partnering with global customers and that the Irish workforce is one of the most flexible and educated in the world. Coupled with a proven track record of meeting global market leader needs, the Irish Advantage is obvious.
We spoke with Richard Whelan from Irish company Popdeem on the evolution of social media marketing and how brands can keep up in this environment.
Social media marketing is constantly evolving and can be difficult for brands to navigate. Dublin-based software developer Popdeem is a social engagement solution that is at the forefront of innovation in social media marketing and is helping brands drive word-of-mouth marketing. Popdeem is unique in that it seamlessly integrates into a company’s existing loyalty platform and rewards customers for sharing their experiences on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Customers as brand ambassadors
“A brand’s loyal customers are the most likely candidates to become brand ambassadors and advocates,” said Richard Whelan, CEO, and Co-founder, Popdeem. “By tapping into their existing loyal customer base, we can drive more effective word-of-mouth marketing for the company, and deliver an engaging and rewarding experience to the customers.”
With the rise of influencer marketing, some brands still forget that their most potent marketing channel is their own customers. Word-of-mouth is the highest performing form of marketing in every industry. By identifying potential influencers within an existing customer base, companies have the opportunity to turn customers into powerful brand ambassadors.
“As the effectiveness of traditional banner adverts and sponsored posts continue to drop, we also have a rise in privacy regulation happening,” said Whelan. “This environment sets the table for a much bigger emphasis on earned media and nano-influencer marketing.”
Branding: an essential aspect of business
Popdeem works with a number of fast food restaurant brands in the US, Australia, Canada, and South America. Social channel branding and loyalty programs are essential aspects of their business. Brands must build a strategy that helps them reach their objectives. Social reward campaigns are effective in driving app downloads, increasing loyalty revenue, and broadening their reach on social media, many other goals.
“Social media marketing is a constantly evolving ecosystem that can be difficult for brands to navigate,” said Whelan. “Traditional loyalty programs aren’t providing the same ROI as they once did. As consumer expectations constantly elevate, brands need to differentiate their experiences and provide a more engaging, personalized experience.”
Popdeem’s customers see successful returns
Whelan explained that audiences are losing trust in influencers who are seen to promote brands that they aren’t necessarily customers of. It’s clear that these influencers have been paid for their promotion and the content is not genuine. Because Popdeem focuses on identifying actual, loyal customers of a brand and rewarding them for sharing their brand experiences, the material is more authentic and real, driving higher engagement.
Kung Fu Tea, for example, a 170+ store franchiser of bubble teas, milk teas and other beverages, launched with Popdeem in August and is already seeing huge returns with more than 200,000 downloads, 100,000 users registered to receive social rewards, 5,000 social shares, 25,000 social interactions, and 750,000+ impressions on user-created brand stories in just the first 4 months of the campaign.
“What kind of future do we want to imagine for ourselves – and for the planet? How can we improve the quality of life for all humanity? These are the kinds of future-facing questions that innovative Irish companies are answering right now,” says Julie Sinnamon, chief executive of Enterprise Ireland, the trade and innovation agency.
“They are big questions. They challenge and perplex all of us but they also drive us on to find big answers. It is those answers that will help create a brighter future for everyone.”
Watch the video: Small Country, Big Impact
As the pace of change accelerates, the need for questioning grows. “People are increasingly searching for ways to capitalise on change while at the same time ensuring it is the right kind of change – the kind that helps people and the environment, that promotes diversity or improves conditions for those in need,” says Sinnamon.
Such existential questions require vision from innovators who can look into the future and see the bigger picture, but also get things done in the here and now.
“Irish businesses are at the centre of technological innovation and are driven by commercial imperatives but also by a desire for a fairer, more equitable future,” says Sinnamon.
“This is not just an aspiration. It’s something Irish businesses are achieving right now. It’s why Ireland is the second largest medtech exporter in Europe and is a fintech leader across payments, regtech and funds. Ireland is also a global centre for agritech innovation and has a world-class track record delivering large and complex high-tech construction projects around the world,” says Sinnamon.
“Whatever the sector, Irish businesses are out in the world developing solutions to meet the toughest challenges facing it, bringing what we know to be the ‘Irish Advantage’ to business partners around the world.”
Irish companies are currently achieving international sales at record levels. “They are doing that by driving innovation,” says Carol Gibbons, Department Manager Digital Technology & Director ICT Commercialisation at Enterprise Ireland.
“Innovation is a game changer in relation to a company’s ability to compete and, in the 2017 European Innovation Scoreboard, Ireland was ranked number one for innovative capability. That is what distinguishes us and enables us compete in global markets.”
It’s not just Enterprise Ireland saying that. “We have a global presence with offices around the world and people on the ground. We spend a lot of time talking to the international customers of our client companies. The feedback we consistently get is that Irish companies all go ‘the extra mile’,” says Gibbons.
“We hear time and again that Irish companies work as trusted partners. They look at the demands their customers are facing, talk to them about the markets they are in and the products they need, and then innovate new products and services to suit. That is how Irish companies compete globally and why so many are leaders in their market segments, with technology playing a key role.”
So, how will we improve quality of life for all of humanity?
With innovators such as Aerogen, the world’s leading medical device company specialising in aerosol drug delivery systems; and Nuritas, which combines artificial intelligence and genomics to discover and unlock natural bioactive peptides, changing the lives of billions of people worldwide.
How will we sustain our growing global population?
Through companies such as Moocall, a specialist in sensor based herd management software, and TerraNutriTECH, which automates animal nutrition to improve herd health.
How can we grow yet preserve the environment for the next generation?
Thanks to businesses like C&F Green Energy, which is powered by a mission to make wind energy affordable, and NVP Energy, whose smart business solutions take wastewater from production lines and turn it into an energy source.
Can we get the most from machines, without losing our essential humanness?
Absolutely, with companies such as Aylien, a developer of AI-driven content analysis solutions that make it easy to understand vast amounts of human text using deep learning and advanced natural language processing; Artomatix, creator of the world’s first 3D art engine; and Pointy, a revolutionary new system that automatically displays retailers’ products online, using algorithms and machine learning to estimate stock levels and helping traditional retailers compete with e-commerce ones.
How will our physical world merge with our digital world?
With the help of innovators such as Soapbox Labs, who develops speech recognition solutions specifically for children’s voices to ensure the highest accuracy possible; RecommenderX, who uses machine learning to guide enterprise teams to better, data driven decision making; and VR Education, whose virtual and augmented software is changing how educational and training is delivered.
Is it possible to connect people so that they can transact more easily, securely – and fairly?
Yes, as a result of pioneers such as AID:Tech, who uses blockchain technology to revolutionise how governments, corporate and NGOs deliver charitable aid and benefits across the world; and Sysnet Global Solutions, developer of compliance security solutions that protect us online.
That there are many more innovative Irish companies just like these is down to a unique environment. “Ireland has a strong entrepreneurial agenda, is very agile in looking for international opportunities and has a highly educated, flexible workforce with a forward looking mindset,” says Gibbons.
“They are supported by initiatives such as Technology Centres, which bridge commercial knowledge with academic research, ensuring Irish companies are ready for future developments, particularly in relation to artificial intelligence and machine learning.”
Its business community is supported by a world class R&D ecosystem and operates alongside some of the world’ biggest names in technology, life sciences and financial services, all areas for which Ireland is a global hub. The result is that Irish companies grow up meeting the standards of global leaders.
Ireland is a country where entrepreneurs are held in high esteem at home, and are ambitious for success abroad.
They succeed not despite coming from a small island in the Atlantic but because of it. “We have always been outward looking,” says Gibbons. “We are natural networkers and we gain through our networks. It means that when we look at a new market, we can gain good entry quickly. That’s a real positive.”
Ireland makes an impact on the world stage in all walks of life, from arts and literature to humanitarianism, so it’s no surprise to that it does so in business too. “We are a small country but we have big ideas – global ones,” Gibbons says.
“Don’t be deceived by our size”, cautions Sinnamon: “we’re a small country that makes a big impact.”
Irish mobile and wireless tech innovators announced a number of new deals and partnerships at the most recent Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona in February.
“This is the leading event for mobile and wireless telecommunications and brings Irish innovation to a world audience,” said David Byrne, manager of the electronics division at Enterprise Ireland.
22 companies supported by Enterprise Ireland, the trade and innovation agency, attended this year’s event, including innovators such as Cubic Telecom, Asavie, Openet and iKydz. 13 companies showcased solutions in the area of emerging technologies at the Irish Pavilion stand.
MWC is the largest mobile event in the world, bringing together the latest innovations and cutting-edge technology from more than 2,400 companies.
Global tech deals at Mobile World Congress 2019
Five Irish companies announced deals with global tech giants such as Microsoft and Samsung at the event.
Openet, who offers real-time software solutions and services, announced a partnership with Samsung, who will adopt their products in North America.
Leaders in connected intelligence, Cubic Telecom, will collaborate on the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform, and also announced a deal with European car manufacturer Skoda.
Irish digital parenting company iKydz launched a sim card that allows parents to govern their children’s internet usage. Speaking at MWC, iKydz’s Paul Van Den Bergh said, “It’s proving very popular with operators around the world.”
Welcoming the announcements at Mobile World Congress was Seán Canney, TD, Minister of State for Natural Resources, Community Affairs and Digital Development, who said, “As a country that wants to be at the forefront of digital technology, this is where it is happening. It’s probably the world stage for technology companies.”
What is your role with Enterprise Ireland?
I am a Market Advisor for Digital Technologies, based in Enterprise Ireland’s Austin TX office. I was previously based in Enterprise Ireland’s New York office for two years, where I worked with Irish fintech companies targeting the US financial services market.
My current role involves working with Irish companies across the spectrum of technology, with a specific focus on supporting client activities in Texas and the Southern States.
What makes it so rewarding?
Having the opportunity to raise the profile of Ireland and Irish companies in Texas by promoting it as a hub of innovation and a source of world-class technological solutions is very exciting. The depth of talent and creativity that can be found in Irish enterprise is quite astounding and I love being able to bring this message to those that I meet here at the SXSW event.
What changes in the US tech industry have you witnessed within the last few years?
Looking back to when I moved to the US about two and a half years ago, it’s amazing to see the pace at which the tech industry has changed. When I first got here, there was a lot of hype around technologies like blockchain, AI and machine-learning and their potential impact on traditional industries. We are now just starting to see actual practical use cases of how these technologies can be implemented. It seems that every large corporation has a team dedicated to looking at how to best harness these technologies.
There has also been a change in how large enterprises approach working with start-ups. There is less of an attitude of competition with these potential disruptors and more of an openness to collaboration and working together to solve challenges. Many corporates now have venture arms and specific programs for directly engaging with early-stage companies. For example, Oracle opened its first US start-up accelerator in Austin last year.
Where do you see the industry going?
A key trend that I see is the rise of technology ecosystems outside of the traditional big tech hubs. As costs continue to rise in crowded markets like New York and the SF/Bay Area, companies both big and small will need to look to other regions if they want to continue growing. We’re already seeing this in Austin, where essentially every tech MNC has established some sort of presence in the area, with many of them continuing to grow their footprint.
Apple already has 6,000 employees in Austin and recently announced the building of a $1bn campus for 7,000 more. I think this emergence of new tech hubs bodes well for Irish companies, as it will provide them with more opportunities to enter and expand into the US beyond the traditional East Coast/West Coast markets.
What do Irish tech companies bring to the table in this industry?
When it comes to the emerging technologies that currently dominate industry conversations, Irish start-ups are showing real ingenuity in areas like AI, blockchain, and IoT. The presence of many large tech multinationals in Ireland, coupled with world-class research institutions, has led to the development of commercially-focused innovations. Irish companies bring a depth of knowledge and experience in how to apply these technologies in real value-added ways and there is also a flexibility in their approach to partnering with large enterprise that allows them to solve some of their most challenging problems. This flexibility is one of the key reasons for the global success of Irish tech companies.
Any tips for digital tech companies looking to expand into the US?
The US is a huge market and any Irish company looking to the US for the first time needs to decide on which region makes most sense as an entry point. This means researching things like where their customer base is concentrated and the business environment of specific locations.
Regardless of where a company decides to direct its focus, the need to be present in-market is paramount. Competition in the US is fierce and those that want to succeed need to be committed by having people on the ground so that they can always be attentive to customer needs and continually build relationships.
It’s also often the case that early stage Irish companies don’t fully appreciate the costs and complexities of US market expansion. I would encourage start-ups to actively seek advice from other Irish entrepreneurs and companies that have done it before because they can provide insights on what to do and more importantly, what not to do.
How long has Enterprise Ireland been attending SXSW?
Enterprise Ireland has had a stand at the SXSW Interactive Expo for the last seven years, where we bring a cohort of Irish tech companies to exhibit. SXSW Interactive is one of the largest and most high-profile technology conferences in the USA and is always a marquee event on the tech industry’s calendar. The fact that it coincides with the week of St. Patrick’s Day every year means that there is already an increased awareness of Ireland on the global stage and allows us to leverage this publicity to highlight our presence at the show.
Why is SXSW important for Irish companies?
For non-US based start-ups and earlier stage companies, coming to SXSW allows them to validate their product and value propositions in a high feedback environment prior to committing to more substantial market development. Some of our companies come to promote the launch of a new product and SXSW provides an ideal platform to reach a US tech-focused audience.
Of course, with so many major players from a variety of industries in attendance, Irish companies will have access to potential partners and customers with whom they can begin building relationships. There is also a large presence of the US investment community so companies who may be seeking funding have the opportunity to connect with potential investors.
What are you looking forward to most at SXSW this year?
I’m looking forward to just getting onto the trade show floor and being in the middle of this kaleidoscope of large brands, corporates, thought leaders, media, investors and start-ups. SXSW really is the perfect storm of everything new and exciting about the US tech industry. Past shows have proven to be the launching pad for global brands like Twitter and Instagram so I can’t wait to see what future phenomenon might emerge at this year’s show.
From Enterprise Ireland’s perspective, we’re particularly excited to have some of our companies presenting on stage at the International Innovation Platform, giving them the chance to show exactly what Irish innovation has to offer.
Who are the Irish companies exhibiting at SXSW this year?
AI technology that is transforming customer engagement through conversational AI and takes away the reliance on human interaction. Uses Conversational AI to reduce operational costs by adding smart chatbots to communicate with customers on webpages.
Design Partners is a product design and interaction design agency. For over 30 years, they’ve been designing best-selling and award-winning product experiences for brands around the world in three specialist categories: consumer, healthcare and professional.
Dublin-based FieldAware was founded with the future of the field service industry in mind. Company founders saw a need to create an all-in-one platform that included scheduling and reporting through automated, bidirectional, live communication between the field and the back office. Technology innovation and a culture of customer support have helped FieldAware become the fastest-growing field service software-as-a-service (SaaS) company on the market.
We recently sat down with Marc Tatarsky, SVP Marketing, FieldAware, to discuss the company’s growth, opportunities within the US and global tech sector, and the Irish advantage.
What makes FieldAware unique?
Field service is quite complex, and our clients want to fully enable their remote workers by providing easy access to the information they need when they need it. They also want to provide the back office and management teams with complete visibility too. This means providing transparency to the workflows, the worker, assets, and parts that are being used in the field so that operations can be managed effectively and productively.
FieldAware delivers a suite of software and support services to companies with field service operations. We designed our solution to address the decades-old challenge of automating field service activities and workers from the ground up. We enable them to capitalize on a modern technology infrastructure for ease of use and incredible flexibility.
FieldAware delivers an end-to-end solution encompassing a robust suite of core functionality bundled into the primary solution that automates most field service organizations. In addition, FieldAware offers value-add modules for enhanced capabilities, such as analytics, optimization, dynamic workflows, all with the benefits and accessibility that only a made-for-mobile platform architecture can bring.
And unlike most competitors, our focus is 100% on field service management, which allows us to put all of our R&D efforts into continuously innovating our solution without any distractions or competing priorities regarding resource and investment.
What role does customer service play in such a data-driven solution?
From an operational perspective, we understand the challenges our clients are looking to solve and help them achieve their strategic objectives. We work with clients to gain a full understanding of their key business requirements, where they are starting from and help to identify the steps needed to achieve their objectives.
This might include a focus on resources and resource planning. It could center around the customer experience and how to meet or exceed expectations. It may be that the client has a strong focus on cost and how to balance the cost of service delivery with profitability. One key finding we have encountered is that the field service management solution and workflows must seamlessly work with whatever existing or new systems or solutions the client requires for their back-office support to maximize operational success.
We understand that no two businesses are exactly alike. Rather than deliver an out-of-the-box solution that limits options, through connectors, FieldAware’s open API can communicate with other web-based products, enabling bidirectional transfer of data and automating the service chain. The flexibility we provide empowers our customers with the ability to match current business processes and automate the gathering of information from the field to the back office and deliver real business results.
Some of the greatest successes we have is where we have helped clients realize their ambitions for growth while ensuring that the quality of service they deliver to their customers and the associated cost management is achieved.
What aspects of FieldAware attracts US clients?
We have a strong operational and local presence in North America. This provides us with a thorough understanding of the market requirements, legislation and general challenges being faced. More specifically, our focus on delivering the best suite of solutions to field service organizations means we are often considered the go-to company for their requirements.
Combining these two factors of a strong market presence with a leading business solution, our clients get access to a winning combination. Add in our understanding of their field service business requirements, the partnership approach we take, and the ongoing local support services we provide, and our clients get access to a world-class solution that provides a fast return on investment.
Our work with the Meadows Service Group is a good client success example where we help their team focus on maximizing the lifetime and effectiveness of their clients’ workplace assets. As a one-stop resource, Meadows’ services include furniture maintenance, asset management, inventory control, on-demand service, and furniture rental, ultimately saving their clients time and money.
Does being an Irish company have an advantage?
In addition to our Dublin-based R&D organization, with our North America presence, we also have a great team of customer success managers who operate across the US, more locally working closely with our clients. This team is fundamental in helping clients on a one-on-one basis, ensuring they are making the most of the entire suite of solutions to maximize their investment and achieve results.
Around the world, Irish companies bring with them a solid reputation for strong technology expertise and innovation, and FieldAware is no different. The fast-moving pace of our work calls for flexible, innovative and forward-thinking individuals. With our R&D based in Dublin, we have easy access to the significant pool of talent in the technology industry within Ireland, as well as across Europe. The continuous development seen within the sector also means we can take advantage of this and ensures ongoing innovation within our work.
Irish companies are well positioned with good access into Europe and being English-speaking is a significant additional benefit in the global economy.
Productivity in large companies is becoming ever more important as organisations realise they need to optimise their performance 24/7 in order to be leaner and more profitable. Big data and analytics provide an immense opportunity to help achieve these goals, giving invaluable insights into business operations with the potential to deliver more efficiencies and cost savings. In particular, the service sector, and companies with many off-site employees or outsourced staff, are ripe for digital transformation.
Irish technology company Over-C is one firm that is helping organisations streamline business activities with real-time feedback, enabling them to easily comply with business regulations. The Cork-based company, which has offices in London, has made great progress in transforming the operations of British companies by offering tailored IT solutions. Essentially Over-C helps businesses with large amounts of contracted staff answer the question: how do you control and manage their time and ensure productivity? It’s a big challenge for numerous businesses and Over-C provides the technology to allow directors and management teams to monitor staff and site activity – even at 2am, if needed – and consequently look at what actions are required to be more productive.
The company has recently partnered with, Telefonica, to resell their solution under the product name, O2 Smart Compliance, powered by Over-C. Recent contract successes have been with ScotRail – Scotland’s national rail provider. The online real-time platform enables ScotRail’s staff to input information on health and safety issues via a smartphone app and provide evidence of security duties carried out within preset ‘zones’ or areas of Scotland’s railway stations. The project is nearly one year into a five-year contract; ScotRail manages 350 stations and employs more than 5,000 people.
Innovative solutions for a competitive environment
“We are committed to bringing innovative solutions to organisations and helping them thrive in a competitive environment where compliance to regulations is paramount,” says Michael Elliott, CEO of Over-C. “ScotRail has benefitted greatly from our platform in allowing managers to easily assess what tasks have been carried out and what other issues they need to address. The recording of information provides a digital audit trail that can be traced on any smartphone, tablet or PC at any time in any location.”
He adds: “We are building a community so people feel respected not neglected. We foresee that many other organisations will also see the benefit of working with us so that we can create a digital reporting tool that meets their needs.”
Stephen Elliot, Security Manager for ScotRail, says: “The beauty of the O2 Smart Compliance powered by Over-C system is that it can feed back; it’s got in-built reminders that push information to the phone. With the software we can see when each zone has been searched, when and who by; it’s recorded within the system and can’t be manipulated. Because they developed the system around our needs, we are one of the first train operating companies in the UK to use this zonal system. This system is leading the way – it’s the gold standard.”
Ability to make transformative decisions
Over-C was founded in 2011 by Michael Elliott and now employs 34 staff. Elliott previously owned a security company with 500+ employees and outsourced staff in the UK; he became acutely aware of the challenges that a large organisation can face in terms of employee management and decided to devise a digital platform that could be used in many different organisational environments. The company began working with Enterprise Ireland in 2015 after taking part in a Bank of Ireland Accelerator programme.
Over-C’s platform uses algorithms to predict and optimise operational performance based on results from previous tasks, with new inputs enabling consistent updates of information. Insights created from Over-C analytics is visualised in live dashboards that enables businesses to make transformative decisions, saving money, enhancing compliance and increasing productivity. Over-C’s technology has led to operational savings of up to 20% for its clients and, on average, a 50% increase in operational performance, in the first month alone.
Using standard mobile devices and strategically placed sensors to provide transparency of operations through real-time data, the technology enables business leaders to rethink their operating models, drive performance forward and ensure legislative compliance.
Padraic Geraghty, Market Advisor for Digital Technologies at Enterprise Ireland, says: “Over-C is a great example of how an innovative outlook and a desire to fulfil customers’ needs can lead to a really useful digital platform that can enhance operational efficiency and productivity.”
Dublin digital agency ensures clients hit the metrics that matter.
When the German Federal Government commissioned an online space for a cultural initiative, Irish agency Kooba delivered it.
Kultur und Kreativpiloten Deutschland is a national competition for Germany’s creative and cultural industries. By the end of the project, not only did the client get an attractive online presence – a prerequisite – but Kooba ensured that the platform provided a terrific user experience to three separate audiences.
The Kultur und Kreativpiloten Deutschland site showcases winning pilot projects to the public. It supports applicants entering the competition and also helps to manage the contest in such a way as to make the task as easy as possible for judges.
The result is a website that both encourages entries and helps the competition flow smoothly.
“It’s an exciting project that perfectly showcases our creative and our tech expertise,” says Kooba founder and managing director, Emmet Dunne.
Results-driven approach attracts success for Kooba
It also shows precisely the kind of creative and results-driven approach Kooba adopts for clients. Since it was established in 2005, the agency’s work has focused on creating meaningful digital engagement, the kind that turns online traffic into tangible business results.
“Our customers depend on online success. We deliver it,” says Dunne.
“The key to our success has been that clients see proven results. For any agency, a good looking website should be a given. For us, it’s all about getting an understanding of what the client’s business objectives are.”
This could be lead generation, delivering information, or sales.
“Whatever it is, every part of the design is developed to meet that objective,” says Dunne. “And because everything we do is tracked, it’s very easy for us to show the impact we’ve had too.”
Launching a digital project is just the beginning
For Kooba the launch of a site is just the beginning. “For us it’s all about building long-term relationships. It’s a relationship that starts right back at the brief stage. A key part of our job is challenging the brief, filling in any gaps and holes to help build a better brief and from there identifying objectives and key performance indicators, establishing numbers and targets.”
Innovation underpins all of Kooba’s work. “There is no cookie cutter work here, everything we do is bespoke.”
One project the agency recently delivered was the creation of a new online presence for Aviva on Lansdowne Road, home of Irish rugby. The presence doesn’t just showcase the venue and its events but enables more efficient access of visitors to Ireland’s biggest stadium.
Prior to founding the company, Dunne worked in the US, UK, and Australia. That international mindset has informed its development. Today, Kooba has teams in Berlin and Dublin.
Berlin’s start-up scene is proving a good fit
“We’d always been able to win clients from the UK and US from Ireland but we wanted to focus on a non-English speaking market too,” explains Dunne.
“We chose Berlin because one of our key targets is the tech start-up sector. That has proven an ideal industry for us and Berlin has a really interesting start-up scene, as well as being very interesting from a creative perspective generally.”
Both at home and abroad, the agency has developed a reputation “for really pushing a brand as far as it can go online, for showing the possibilities. Online can be that bit more experimental than print because you can push things out and start A/B testing,” he says.
Tech start-ups understand the value of an engaging conversion-focused online presence, which is why the team at Kooba loves working with them. “Where we have the most success is always where the client sees how important online is to them. They understand the transformational impact it can have on their business, how it is the most important sales tool they have, and how it could be the difference between success and failure to them.”
Swrve partners with Kooba to increase customer engagement
Swrve is a good example. It was set up in 2010 and has grown into a major international provider of real-time marketing automation software.
It increases customer engagement for a range of clients, from Microsoft to the airline Emirates, through dynamic campaigns that deliver relevant, personalised messages across mobile, email, web, TV and emerging digital channels, including systems such as Alexa.
Swrve has offices in San Francisco, Dublin and London, and is installed in 2 billion apps worldwide, tracking 12 billion mobile events every day.
“Before I came here, Kooba were our web partners,” says Suzanne McVey, Swrve’s Director of Digital Marketing & Operations. “The relationship has grown over the years to the point that they have become our digital partner.”
Kooba delivers added value to Swrve in a variety of ways, from working with it through marketing automation tools such as Pardot and Marketo to helping it with Java script and coding.
“They are highly professional. If I email them with a query, within 10 minutes it’s either sorted or it is in (project management and team communication software) Basecamp – which they introduced to us – which provides timelines and puts everyone on the same page, leaving no room for discrepancies,” she says.
“When it comes to marketing campaigns, whether it is optimising landing pages or coming up with ideas to drive up conversion rates or trying different types of chatbot, or coming back to me with metrics, looking into Google Analytics, driving SEO to push us to the top of the Google rankings – all are contributions that go straight to our bottom line.”
If anything it’s more than a partnering relationship. “It’s actually like having another employee,” says McVey. “We know they want us to achieve.”
An emphasis on partnership and a strong engineering team are key to Inhance Technology’s success in delivering on clients’ needs in a fast-paced market.
Inhance Technology’s early products were developed to recover mobile devices and data, and went on to include the first wireless method of moving data between devices without needing to store it. CEO William Fitzgerald says that the success of these early products, still in use today, helped the company to build partnerships in a range of sectors: “From talking to these companies we started to understand their pain points, and from there we developed our latest product, which uses diagnostics to remotely assess the condition of a mobile device. That has a number of applications in the insurance industry, reverse logistics, leasing, customer service among others, so we’re addressing quite a lot of areas with that product.”
In general, consumers either download the product from the main app stores or receive it as part of an app already on the device, and then complete a series of tests to assess the device’s condition – from the sensors and buttons to the display and even the screen glass. These white label applications carry the partner company’s branding, increasing its value to Inhance’s customers.
As well as supporting the valuation of devices for resale, insurance and trade-in, the remote assessment technology also has a value to consumers, William explains: “40% of devices will go back to the warehouse at some point with a fault that’s classified as ‘no fault found’. We can tackle that while the consumer still has their device.”
This consumer focus is key to Inhance’s business model: “We start with the consumer when we’re building the applications, with ease of use for them as a priority. We always have the end user in mind and I think that’s where a lot of our success has come from.”
Innovation and partnership
In a fast-paced, dynamic and competitive landscape, innovation is crucial. CFO/COO John Burke says the strength of an engineering team with almost 200 years of experience between them is pivotal to this: “We get the engineers involved very early on to help guide the client through the process. We like to be seen as the innovation partners by our clients.”
Focused development underpinned by cutting-edge R&D has seen the company granted 32 patents so far, with 40 more at various stages of the application process. William says that everything comes back to partnership: “Once you get into the right partnership, they will bring you to the right customer. The products we develop come as a result of understanding pain points rather than developing tech for the sake of it – it’s all about building something that’s relevant to the market.”
Inhance is justifiably proud of partners that include tier one original equipment manufacturers, regional and global carriers, insurance providers, retailers, and the largest device logistics companies in the world.
Speed and scale of Inhance approach
Meeting their partners’ needs quickly and efficiently is key, according to John: “We can demonstrate capability same day; we can spin up an app, white label it and take on the customer brand within a couple of days, which is hugely beneficial to our partners and to the end client.”
And the company’s technology is readily adaptable to existing products, as William explains: “We can deliver a software development kit, where our technology is incorporated into an existing app. We supply a few lines of code and all of our services get pulled into their current app, so you can have 100,000 to one million customers set up overnight.”
Inhance has worked with partners in Europe, the US and Canada for a number of years. The company is also active in the Asia-Pacific region, in Australia and New Zealand. Europe can be challenging, as fragmentation of the market can make achieving scale more difficult, but this is a challenge they embrace, says John: “We don’t rule out any market. We run pilots in particular markets, to test the technology and work out the flow. It’s the same underlying technology with some translations and maybe some local customisations – the product has a global reach, which is the exciting thing.”
The plan for the future is to keep the momentum going, says William: “Over the last six months in particular we’ve started to see more inbound enquiries as we get better known in the marketplace for our innovation and our accuracy. The mobile space is a tough space to operate in and we have to stay ahead of the game. We need to be a couple of years ahead of what’s currently out there all the time.”
John concludes: “We’re very lucky to have a unique service and value proposition in the market at the moment, but we can’t sit still; we have to continue to innovate.”
With offices in Dublin, Ireland and San Francisco, California, &Open operates the world’s first customer happiness platform. While many businesses send gifts, &Open is the only gifting company that uses a platform — one that the &Open team created themselves — to deliver gifts, track inventory, and automate the entire workflow.
“Our platform allows clients to send the perfect gift from options designed and developed specifically for their brand,” said Jonathan Legge, CEO, &Open. “The gifts can be shipped around the world, at local rates, using &Open’s automated network.”
Companies can also manage their team’s access to the platform and track inventory and customer engagement all in one place. Legge explained that while the idea of ‘surprising and delighting’ customers is not new, and that many companies use gifts as a customer retention strategy, isolated gifting moments can be expensive, and their impact is hard to track.
“It’s clear that gifting forms deep, loyal customer relationships,” added Legge. “Through personal, handwritten notes and gifts that speak to them, customers know that they are truly appreciated. Through our technology, we help clients develop loyal customers that become advocates.”
Act local, think global
To build upon success, a prominent client had encouraged &Open to grow their business by opening an office in San Francisco, California. The team was looking to deliver an even tighter level of service by having a presence within the same time zone.
“By having our San Francisco office, we are closer to our US clients and can develop even stronger relationships through face-to-face interactions and other events,” added Legge. “Opening the office in the US has been a great move for us.”
And to take business progress in the other direction, Legge explained that many of their US client companies are looking to expand their business outside North America. &Open has the global contacts, logistical framework, and insights in place to assist with international growth.
In October 2018, for example, &Open launched a new enterprise-level version of their platform in China. This let their client, Airbnb, expand their operations in a growing market. This successful launch demonstrates &Open’s ability to manage the technological and logistical needs of its client – a framework that scaling companies, who are looking to expand internationally, can plug into.
The Irish advantage
Innovative, flexible and trusted – Irish companies are delivering a competitive advantage in all sectors in the US and around the world. Ireland’s uniquely open, fast-moving and collaborative economy develops people and companies with an unmatched track record of meeting the needs of global market leaders.
“Companies in Ireland are well positioned between Europe and the United States and have the advantage of a large number of European HQs at their doorstep,” said Helen Lummis, Account Manager, &Open, North America. “Ireland’s EU membership and the fact that it’s the only English-speaking member of the EU, are also big advantages when helping US companies expand globally. Selecting an Ireland-based partner makes good business sense.”
Irish companies have a unique approach to partnering with global customers. The Irish workforce is one of the most flexible and educated in the world, and a forward-looking mindset means that product, service and process innovation is a key driving factor. Coupled with a proven track record of meeting global market leader needs, the Irish Advantage is obvious.
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